Typically, a quick background on a band is given to present context when publicly reviewing a new album. However, to bring up what Leprous has done in the past, to describe where they are currently seems genuinely ineffective in the case of Pitfalls. What the new listener needs to know, is that Leprous is a band who is at their core ever-changing, staying only consistent through absolute fluidity. What established listeners of the band need to know about Pitfalls, is to remove all attachments and expectations and let this band continue to reveal to you what you didn’t know you wanted from them. Pitfalls is an album by a band who truly deserve the moniker “progressive” in a sea of bands who claim the term unjustly.
What Leprous has done on Pitfalls is in many ways difficult to articulate. More than anything else, the album is a clear outpouring of emotions so direct that it is hard to imagine they could have withheld said emotions had they wanted to. Lyrically, the album moves between the intersection of hope and despair in a way that only can be understood by those who have found themselves broken and yet simultaneously growing from that brokenness. Pitfalls is in that way a very human album, leaving metaphor aside for a more direct lyrical approach. There is level of allure that comes with an artist who presents this level of transparency. It seems as though these songs needed to be expressed by the band.
Being able to convey this level of honesty emotionally would not be nearly as effective without stellar performances by the individual band members. Leprous leans into electronic elements, strings, perfect rhythmic choices, and captivating and commanding vocal delivery to highlight their developing songwriting style. The sweeping interludes of strings, electronics, and subtle but driving drums on “At the Bottom” exemplify this new strength. Leading the listener into a passionate vocal delivery that feels more like a desperate outcry than a singer delivering a planned melody. This leads right into “Distant Bells” which lures the listener softly into a trance before arriving at a stunning and rewarding climactic payoff. The album does however delivery its fair share of hooks, mainly in a more direct way near the beginning of the album, many of which catchy enough to find a home on any pop record. The album closes with two tracks that stand alone stylistically. Leprous reveals the most direct and guitar driven tracks for the album’s climax, closing with “The Sky is Red”, an 11 minute track that concludes with a choir and odd rhythmic trudge that grows into the most metallic stretch of the album.
Pitfalls is an album of vulnerability, of growth, and of releasing expectations. It is an album that is exactly what it needs to be. Pitfalls feels like the album that Leprous had no choice but to write.
Recommendations: This, literally just this in the best headphones you can find.
Review By: Sean Cantor